« back to overview Nebula Load higher resolution (1800 x 1200 Pixel    3500 x 2300 Pixel) Object description
The molecular cloud Lupus 3 and the reflection nebula GN 16.05.2

Short description:

The molecular cloud Lupus 3 in the constellation Wolf hosts GN 16.05.2, a large but very faint reflection nebula. The two Herbig Haro stars HR 5999 and HR 6000 in the centre of the nebula were formed in the molecular cloud and illuminate the dust around them with their blue light. They are the centre of a cluster of relatively low-mass newly formed stars that are still hidden inside the cloud in visible light. HR5999/6000 are probably younger than 1 million years.

The Lupus 3 molecular cloud belongs to the Scorpius-Centaurus OB association and has a distance of about 600 light years from our solar system. The dense (dark) part of the molecular cloud has a length of about 15 light years. The region of Lupus 3, labelled Sandquist 14 in our annotated image version, contains dust of about 100 solar masses.

The denser regions of such dark clouds contract by their own gravity and heat up in the process. Since visible light in early phases of the collapse is still obscured by the dust of the molecular cloud, these early phases of star formation can only be observed in the infrared spectral range.
As the young stars become hotter, their intense radiation begins to disintegrate the cloud around them and the stars are also visible in the visual spectral range. It is certain that our Sun was formed in a similar molecular cloud more than 4.5 billion years ago.

In the lower right corner, GN 16.01.6 is another small reflection nebula.

Further Informationen:

A short description of ESO's Lupus 3 can be found here. A comprehensive scientific publication of the ESO "The Lupus Clouds" is available for download as a pdf-file here.

« Click here or on the thumbnail to load a large image with object names and size comparison to the moon.

Sun Moon Solar System DeepSky Widefield Miscellaneous Spec. Projects

All Images und all Content are © by Franz Hofmann + Wolfgang Paech